The purpose of this book is to review in greater depth the marriage institution given to the first husband and wife at the beginning of creation and the value we place on marriage today. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth and everything in it. He created man and woman in his own image and declared that everything was very good. God performed the marriage of the first husband and wife. He gave them the precious gift of unconditional love, the biological intimate gift of making children, and dominion over the entire world and everything in it. They were trusted stewards of God’s earthly kingdom. They were in constant contact with God’s Law. Disobedience to God’s instruction allowed the creature of deception to rob them of their Creator’s priceless gifts. The first husband and wife’s lack of trust in God’s unconditional love caused the generations that followed to question the sacred institution of marriage. As time went by, the beginning of creation came under attack by the big bang theory revolution. God, in his infinite wisdom and unconditional love for his confused children, sent his only begotten Son to redeem his dominion and restore his moral law to his people and the sacred institution of marriage. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16 KJV).
I am not a marriage counselor or a psychologist. I am just a humble husband who has experienced fifty years of a challenging romantic expedition—marriage—guided and sustained by the gift of God’s unconditional love. In my research on this topic, I discovered there are thousands of counselors, coaches, psychologists, and other experts who counsel married couples and offer the secrets of how to stay married. I respect the counseling of these professionals, but my personal belief and experience in God’s Word, which is dispensed to us in his Holy Bible, suggests to me that there is a missing link. To sustain a successful marriage, we cannot eliminate the sacred instruction given to husband and wife at the beginning of creation. Many of the instructions that professionals give are missing the most important link—God’s divine guidance. In my exploration of joyful living, every day provides new challenging and rewarding adventures. We have a lifetime to accumulate unique learning experiences that represent priceless and rare treasures. Each marriage expedition should be designed and tailored to fit the needs of each couple. I recommend that the wife and husband, who have the opportunity to travel the challenging terrains of life’s journey, design an environmental health-and-safety program.
Before starting your daily activity, take time to analyze and evaluate your work and social environment for hidden physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional hazards that are threats. Take action to eliminate or contain them before they become incidents that are disruptive to your marriage and family work environment. Analyzing, eliminating, and containing hazards will allow your marriage expedition to be more productive.
Most marriages shut down because of unnecessary risk, bad planning, and lack of proper policy and procedure. It is also necessary to mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally prepare your mind and body for your daily tasks. Take quality time for spiritual devotion and physical and mental stretching. Your nervous system will be better balanced and react more efficiently to an emergency. Do not develop a negative attitude that will endanger your expedition.
The priceless buried treasure for which you are searching is a family environment filled with joyful experiences, such as love, contentment, peace, and serenity, established in the trust and confidence of God’s benevolent blessing. These treasures can be invested to provide direction and guidance for future generations.
In the pages of this book, I will encourage wife and husband to visualize their future and paint a panoramic picture of the history they would like to leave for their children, grandchildren, and future generations. How would you like your priceless treasure to be read? Do you want future generations to be confused and disappointed by all the broken relationships and disruptive marriages and family values? Many people have asked Theresa and me what our secret is for staying married for fifty years.
The length of time we have been married is a number. It is the quality time and cooperative efforts we’ve shared with each other that has strengthened the foundation of our relationship. It takes love, compassion, gentleness, kindness, unselfish attitude, positive action, flexibility, endurance, responsibility, and commitment to sustain and nurture joyful living. When I retired from my bachelor lifestyle, I planned to begin a new career as a loving and caring husband, father, and provider for my family. My faith in God and my relationship with my church family, nuclear family, extended family, relatives, and friends provided a physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional foundation for us in difficult times. In my second book, The Miracle of Love, I gave a short description of how I met my wife. Celebrating our golden anniversary gives me the opportunity to write this book, to share our wisdom and knowledge learned from many years of challenging experiences. I hope other married couples who are planning to join us in this unique expedition will benefit from our experiences.
When Colonel Harland Sanders reached retirement age, he discovered that his pension was inadequate to sustain a comfortable lifestyle. He also realized that his experience in culinary art provided him with a unique recipe for fried chicken, which he then shared with the world as Kentucky Fried Chicken, which brought a colorful and profitable accomplishment to his senior years.
Theresa and I do not have experience in culinary art. We do have, however, fifty years of a marital recipe—kosher and seasoned with the spices of challenging experiences that we encountered in our romantic expedition. We are two loving and caring people who are willing to say thanks to God and to all the caring people whose lifestyles have motivated us and given us spiritual and moral support on our journey of life. I hope the words in this book will be viewed as a recipe for joyful living. Theresa and I will receive joyful satisfaction that will reenergize and strengthen our faith and belief in God as we continue on to our final destination.
It is said that someone asked Thomas Edison why he continued with his experiment with the light bulb after so many failures. He informed the person that he did not have failures; he discovered thousands of different ways that the filaments in the light bulb could not work. Because of his dedication and persistence, the world now experiences the success of the light bulb. As you read this book, remember that challenges in our marriages and family relationships are not failures; they are elements that will help to illuminate the pathway for a successful and joyful marriage and family lifestyle.
During our fifty-year romantic expedition, we intentionally built a marital foundation by evaluating negative factors that could cause an angry confrontation and purposefully taking action to reverse the situations. I ask myself, why did we have that argument? What can I do to prevent negative confrontation? I have learned from experience that one of the best methods to resolve conflict is to start an open discussion, such as why it is not healthy to have an argument. In an argument, no one wins. I ask myself, what did I say or do that triggered that argument? What can I do to resolve challenging conflicts? An apology, whether I think I am right or wrong, can diffuse an angry retaliation. Words can destroy, and words can heal. The Bible says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1 NKJV). Never allow confrontation or disagreement to continue through a day and night. They will intensify, expand, and weaken the foundation of your relationship. Prayerfully resolve it before you go to sleep.
In our journey of life, there is always a wrong and a right pathway. If you get on the wrong pathway, you are in danger of having an incident. If you get on the wrong side, stop and think of the most efficient way to get back on the right pathway. Our journey of life provides wonderful and joyful experiences when we extend courtesy and kindness to others. Every challenging situation that is resolved strengthens the foundation of our marriage and family relationships and eliminates weakness that could cause marital pain, which could lead to sickness and death of the marriage.
I have a special message for husband, wives, and families: challenges in marriage and family life do not have to determine where your journey of life ends or the quality of life you live. Challenges are learning experiences that can be used to mold and shape your character for eternity. For Theresa and me, marriage is a unique and priceless treasure that brings wisdom, knowledge, and value to our lives. This wisdom is not learned in textbooks; it can be acquired only through years of experience with our children, relatives, friends, environment, and an intimate relationship with our Creator. I believe that if we are careless in our thinking or succumb to the oversimplification of conventional beliefs, our faith could suffer from false conception of our true potential value.
My wife and I celebrated our fiftieth wedding anniversary on February 12, 2014. I can still vividly remember the first day I saw her, the first date we had, the first time I took her into my arms, and the vow we made on our wedding day, and I can hardly realize it is fifty years since we said “I do.” With great humility and pride, I take this opportunity to say that I love my first lady, my queen. With Jesus as our guiding light, we will continue to walk together until death. By the power of prayer, I found her. She is my special and rare treasure. She is a life partner with strength and compassion, a partner with integrity and goodness in her heart and actions. She has guarded the inner circle of our relationship and made it the sacred center of our lives, just for Jesus, her, and me.
God used a picture in Ezekiel 16 to describe his people. He essentially said, “When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your heart was the heart of love, so I spread my arms and covered you. I went into a covenant with you, a covenant that cannot be broken.” The more I know my wife, the deeper I appreciate and love her. She personifies the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31:10–31, who displays spiritual wisdom and holistic qualities that are needed for our twenty-first–century marriage and family values.
I realize Theresa may not be as perfect as I see her, but in my eyes and in my heart, there’s no one else on earth more genuine and precious than she is to me, my one and only love. And there’s no treasure anywhere to equal what she is worth to me. She is my lover, my friend, my sweetheart, and my wife. It has been a wonderful and challenging fifty-year journey, filled with meaningful experiences.
I have always held that glorious picture in my mind of when I saw her the first time. She was and is one of the most beautiful people in my life and is always a breath of fresh air. The radiance of her smile illuminates the darkest cloud and reflects her beauty; it softens and melts my heart. Life would never be the same without her. She is God-sent. Our first date was at the Rollington Town Seventh-day Adventist Church, when Pastor Green made the altar call. I was surprised and delighted when I walked up to the altar and she took that walk with me. In my heart, I was picturing that special walk we would take together, hand in hand, to make our second best commitment to each other, God, and the world, when we would say I do. We have accumulated wonderful treasures in our fifty-year journey. It has been a glorious blessing, and in gratitude I realize that within those fifty years, we added four of the most beautiful and wonderful children, ten grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren to our treasure chest. They are God’s bountiful blessing to us and an added resource to our community and the world. The pathway was not always smooth, but we weathered the storm because we allowed Jesus into the inner circle of our marriage relationship.
I feel elated and joyful to share our experience with other married couples and families. We can leave some signposts to guide them to their destinations. As a senior married couple, I believe we have an opportunity and responsibility to encourage and motivate others to improve the foundation of their marriage and family lifestyles.
Husbands and wives should take a balanced approach to their lifestyles. They need to have balanced minds, bodies, and spirits to sustain mentally healthy and wealthy marriages and family relationships, built on the foundation of God’s love, with Christ in the center of their daily activities. He will guide and help them to take control of their mental, physical, and emotional behaviors as they travel the pathway in search of joyful living.
The above triangle represents a holistic-balance foundation for a mentally, physically, and emotionally diversified environment, where family values are stored in the heart of your mind, body, and spirit. The center of the circle provides the nucleus—the oneness—where as wife and husband, you have the opportunity to allow Christ to be your pilot on your journey. Remember that you are the captain of your expedition. No one should be allowed in the control center; you are responsible for the safety of your marriage, family, and others. With Christ as your pilot, you will have the proper tools and equipment to evaluate the rugged terrain and eliminate or contain hazardous or challenging conditions before they become obstructions to your expedition.
We will cross many mountains and learn many lessons along life’s journey; experience teaches me that we cannot do it alone. We need the cooperation of others who are traveling on this highway of life. We truly say thanks to God for guiding us to the highway that leads to the right destination. When the journey becomes challenging, I know that we have Jesus Christ, our friends, and our family, who are willing to use their talents—mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically—to help us remove dangerous threats to our marriage and family. Many people have changed direction because they could not follow the highway sign that reads “Until death do we part.” The path we have taken has led to joyful living. Unconditional love is the greatest incentive to guide us on the highway of life. Love is the true character of Christ, and we are made and shaped in his image. “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness …’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26–27 NKJV).
When Adam and Eve sinned, God gave them a second chance by extending his agape love (unconditional love). Why is it that so many of us find it so difficult to give our marriages a second chance?
Marriage is a sacred vow; when we are joined together, we become one. The equation changes from one and one makes two, to two equals one. Marriage should not be taken lightly. When twins are born joined together, it takes surgery by skilled physicians to separate them, and it sometimes involves sacrificing vital parts or even the life of one twin to save the other. When wife and husband separate, there are always consequences. Some men and women have divided their accumulated material possessions and take on added responsibility, supporting two families.
When children are added to the equation, they are separated from mother or father. The mother or father may become a single parent. This could cause financial burdens and added stressors; the children could become rebellious or depressed, blaming themselves for their parents’ failure.
Whether your kids witness screaming matches between you and your husband or see you coolly treating one another with forced politeness, they know what it means. According to developmental researchers at the University of California at Berkeley who randomly selected couples with school age children to participate in a marital intervention, the children whose parents worked to improve their marriage through this intervention did better in school than children of parents who did not. Your marriage is the first guideline your children have for relationships. Respectful disagreements and debates are healthy alternatives that help teach your kids that conflict is inevitable, but that it can be handled with dignity and grace. According to Dr. Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D. and author of the book, “Surviving (Your Child’s) Adolescence,” your decision to divorce affects your children.
While it is not certain that your children will react this way, many children who are the product of divorced parents become more dependent and it makes adolescent kids become more independent at a faster rate. Young children are more likely to regress to wetting the bed, needing more parental care, and they suffer more separation anxiety. Adolescent kids are more likely to act out in school and at home, becoming more aggressive and defiant. This is not to say that parents should stay together if they are unhappy or in abusive relationships, as there are always situations in which the after effects of your divorce are less severe than if you remain married. (Global Post 2015)
The choice is yours. Think of your children. Let God guide you when you are making your decision and remember, grace and mercy say no.
Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren
“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” – Matthew 7:11
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” – James 1:2-3
“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” – Proverbs 3:6
“Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed.”- Proverbs 16:3
“Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!” Luke 12:24 – Luke 12:24
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